Energy from waste

Energy from waste
With its 2020 energy conservation and climate protection goals the EU targets to reduce EU greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% below 1990 levels. This will be achieved through a 20% of EU energy consumption coming from renewable resources and 20% reduction in primary energy use compared with projected levels.

Plastics will contribute to the overall reduction goal as one of the leading materials during use phase in most all applications. Furthermore waste plastics in MSW can be recovered in energy from waste plants (EfW) and plastics in SRF can be recovered in industrial production plants such as pulp and paper, cement, lime and brick.

Significant contribution to CO2 reduction is secured. By diverting mixed MSW from landfill, where it otherwise would decompose and form methane and CO2. Also through replacing fossil fuels like coal with SRF, considerable CO2 reducing is being secured.

More recently technology developing companies have focused on feedstock recycling by using commercially available catalyst and processing technology. This recent initiative is not yet proven in large scale operations.

Energy from waste

Many lifecycle assessments show that feedstock recycling from mixed plastic waste has at least as good environmental performance as mechanical recycling.

The key success factor will be to achieve high yield and selectivity in polymer conversion to produce the right raw materials. Higher oil prices will also make feedstock recycling more attractive.

The striving to increase efficiency has been promoted through several legislative initiatives like the new Waste Framework Directive with the 60 / 65 % minimum energy recovery efficiency target. The plastics industry supports all high efficiency energy recovery operations. To achieve energy efficiency above 80 % a high quality SRF fuel is required. Plastics is the key calorific content provider. Such fuel requires high quality and a standardized specification is being progressed in CEN.